I started programming in STOS Basic on an Atari 1040STF in 1990. I learned C in engineer school in 1997. We worked on Pentiums but they still had 16-bit Turbo C compiler installed on them. So we still had to manage memory in 64KB chunks. We eventually told the teachers that there were free 32 bits compilers around (djgpp) so we moved on to them.
I understand you learned assembly on a Falcon? Can you elaborate? What sort of things have you made on the Falcon?
I bought a Falcon in march 1993 and started learning assembly a few months later. I made a few typical demo effect, like rotozoom, mode7 then I started a DSP 3D engine. I tried to make a 3D game which should have been vaguely similar to Cybermorph but eventually gave up. It's really hard to make a 3D game entirely in assembly and I lacked experience in development.
What is left now is a buggy interactive demo, with tons of clipping bugs. It's a bit slow on a stock Falcon (8-10 fps). With a CT1e2 it's almost smooth (~14-16fps).
What is your favorite genre/type of game?
My favorite type of game is modern first-person shooter. I really liked the Half-Life 2 series and is waiting for episode 3! I also like Crysis 2, Just Cause 2 and Portal 2. OK, JC2 and Portal 2 are not fps but I love them. For me, Portal 2 is possibly the game of the decade. Yeah there is still 9 years to go but it set the bar really high.
With the tools and development setups available now from folks like Belboz and Jagware etc, what do you think is the level of ease of getting into Jag development?
I got started with the jag dev tools on Michael Hill's website: http://www.hillsoftw...om/?page_id=11. I also gathered various tools and documentation from Jagware and other websites.
I started on Virtual Jaguar and I'm still using it alongside the real hardware. With all theses tools and documentation I think it's rather easy to get into Jaguar development.
The Jaguar has a reputation of being of very difficult system to program for. It's not entirely true. The audio side is rather difficult: if you want to make the Jaguar produce a sound, you've to program the RISC DSP and manage its interruptions. Thank LinkoVitch for taking care of this part! A sound engine that runs entirely in the DSP and minimizes bus access is a very valuable thing. For a simple 2D game, I'd say it's rather easy to program. The object processor is taking care of everything. Managing the object list may be a bit difficult for a total newbie in assembly but it's still much easier than writing your own sprite and scroll routines.
I think doing a 2D game on a ST would be more difficult, even on the STe with its blitter and hardware scrolling. And you'd have to deal with the dreadful bit-planes based video memory. I never programed low level stuf on a ST because even basic graphic operations is difficult. The real difficulty with the Jaguar is using its full power. You've to be clever with the OP, the GPU, the Blitter and work around the hardware bugs. I'm not there yet.
So if I read that right you are saying in your opinion it is easier to do 'Shoot Em Up' on the Jaguar than it would be on the ST?
Yes, I think it is easier to do 'Shoot Em Up' on a Jaguar than on a ST, except for the sound engine.
It's most likely more difficult to write your own sound engine for a Jaguar than for any ST. You need to get into the DSP RISC and its interruptions even to play a single sample.
I avoided this issue by using LinkoVitch's sound engine.
What are your long term desires for Jaguar development? More 2-D Shooters? We need more space shooters like that. Any plans for a shooter like Captain Carnage? How about an overhead view game like Captain Carnage that's an adventure rather than shoot em up. Solve problem type things like Zelda or Jurassic Park SNES.
My long term plans? Ah, it's a secret! Well I plan to use more of the Jaguar power. I most likely won't do another 2D shooter.
I won't do an adventure game, that's to much work. Maybe a puzzle game? Anyway I don't plan to do fully polished games. Design bores me. I'll releases the source code to let others do the polishing if they want to.
Do you have any interest in 3-D development? Perhaps something along the lines of Doom using bitmaps?
I don't plan to do polygonal 3D. Partly because the Jaguar doesn't seem to be at its best with this kind of routine, also partly because I did this kind of stuff on the Falcon then on the PC, so I want to do other things now. I may do "2.5D" stuff but not of the complexity of Doom. Maybe a Wolf3D-like ?
What genre of game would you like to see done or done more of on the Jaguar?
I'd like to see a zoomed-sprite based racing game, like Super Burn Out. I may try to do one some day. But it's not in my near term or medium term plans.
Game design bores you but you seem to have an interest/aptitude in tool functionality. Is fixing the bugs in the tools just something to get out of the way whatever you need out of the way or could you possibly see this as something you could develop more interest in?
Fixing bugs in tools is just something I make when I encounter an annoying bug. This was the case with SLN.
I also make tools for very specific tasks. But it is not something I want to invest lots of time into.
Will you always be a one man show or will you in the future perhaps take on another like minded team member(s)? Say a programmer or graphic artist? Someone perhaps to do the polish you say bores you?
It's most likely going to stay a one man show. I want to keep total freedom over my personnal projects.
Are there any games on the Jaguar, as a programmer that when you play them you go 'WOW i'd like to learn to do that on the Jaguar.'
I don't play many games on the Jaguar. From what I've seen (mostly on YouTube videos) the most impressive games are Super Burn out and Phase Zero.
For Super Burn out it's about the amount of zoomed sprites and the very high framerate. I think it really pushes the object processor.
Phase Zero is incredible. It's the only game that exceeds my expectations from the Jaguar.
Too bad it was never finished...
Are there any games or genre's that came out back in the early 90s that weren't on the Jaguar that you thought maybe the Jaguar could of done really well? For myself personally I always thought Bethesda's 'Daggerfall' game would of made an excellent transition to the Jaguar.
I think there are a few famous PC games that the Jaguar could have done well: Wing Commander 1 & 2, Comanche, and possibly Strike Commander. The Jaguar also deserved a good clone of Virtual Racing.
Thank you for your time Dr. Typo.